Posted: December 22nd, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, God is good, God's character, God's glory, God's love, God's will, God's word, marriage, seeking God | No Comments »
Do you have a favorite day of the year? Your birthday? Valentine’s Day? Your anniversary? Thanksgiving or Christmas? The opening day of deer season?
My favorite day of the year is December 23rd.
Why December 23rd?
It’s because of the anticipation. It’s all those magical moments leading up to being together as a family and opening those mysterious presents under the tree. I love the anticipation, the mystery and the surprises.
There’s something very powerful about anticipation. When we anticipate something bad happening, we call that worry or fear. When we anticipate something good and right happening, we call that faith.
So what are you anticipating for 2016?
To experience the best year ever in your life and in your marriage, it’s critical to begin anticipating it.
Now I’m not suggesting that we can simply create a new reality with our thoughts…however, it’s entirely possible that whatever we’re anticipating is what we’ll see occur. There’s something powerful about what we choose to think about and dwell on. Our thoughts fuel our emotions and desires. Our words and actions flow from what we’re thinking and feeling.
And before you know it, what we anticipated becomes our reality.
So what are you anticipating? What are you looking forward to in 2016? What are your thoughts already beginning to shape for you? Are you thinking about…
Getting in better shape? Growing your business? Getting a promotion? Growing closer to God? Building a better marriage?
My passion is to help you believe God and enjoy an amazing marriage. It’s what I want for myself and it’s what I want for you.
I’m 100% convinced that as you believe God’s Word and intentionally invest in your marriage, 2016 will become your best year ever.
Do you believe it?
If you do, then you’re who I created the 25-session video course, “How to Understand Your Spouse and Transform Your Marriage” for. It’s designed to help you experience a passionate and purposeful marriage. One that’s exciting and fulfilling…and full of adventure.
Currently, the price is $97, but if you order this week, you’ll pay just $48.50 now. I’ll bill you for the other $48.50 on January 15th. You’ll get instant access to all the content NOW though. This is a special offer just for my subscribers. CLICK HERE to learn more or purchase the course.
As an added bonus, I’ll also send you the paperback edition of “The Marriage Experiment: a 30-day intimate adventure” when it releases next month.
If your marriage isn’t everything you’d like it to be…if it feels like you’re lacking passion and purpose…if it feels like you’re stuck and things aren’t getting better…or even if your marriage is good and you want it to be amazing…let me encourage you to work through this course. The sessions are short and highly practical. You and your spouse can start 2016 with your marriage better than its ever been.
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Posted: December 22nd, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, fear, forgiveness, God is good, God's character, God's love, God's will, God's word, grace, Holy Spirit, marriage, money, Relationships, seeking God, Young Life | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 18)
I wouldn’t consider myself to be someone who is ungrateful.
But then I realized that I often focus on what I don’t have. What I’m lacking. What I still want.
And so I feel discontent. Disappointed. Sometimes like I’m failing.
So today I thought I’d turn it around…for once…and focus on what I do have to be thankful for. Both big and small. Here’s just a partial list…
Jesus. He loves me. He’s forgiven me. He’s for me. He’s committed to me. He died in my place.
Robyn. She’s amazing. An off-the-charts blessing. I hope I get to be married to her for another 30 years.
Rachel, Erica, Amy and Rob. My kids are such a blessing to me. They’re walking with God and making good choices.
Richard and Ross. My sons-in-law serve their country and my daughters well.
Wes and Tyler. My two grandsons are a great joy.
My health. Other than an occasional cold or headache, I’ve rarely been sick.
My friends. The ones I grew up with, the ones I have now, the ones I rarely see…
My sister. Who doesn’t think like me or vote like me!
The ministry of Young Life.
A house to live in and cars to drive.
Air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.
A pocket-sized computer I carry around that also functions as a phone, a camera and video-recorder.
Football. The opportunity I had to play it and now only watch it. What a great game!
The opportunity to write books and create courses.
Parents who loved me, supported me and encouraged me.
Readers who like my books and ask for more.
The Bible, through which God speaks, leads, convicts and encourages.
My MacBook Pro.
Snow. I love it.
The opportunity to have visited 49 of the 50 states so far. I’m coming for you one day, Nevada.
Pie. Oh, I love pie. Pecan. Pumpkin. Blueberry. Coconut Cream.
Ice Cream. Especially when it’s really hard and has some crunch to it.
Couples who’ve entrusted me with their pre-marital counseling.
Did I mention my wife? And kids?
God’s faithfulness. Even when I doubt.
And His patience. Boy, do I need that!
The backyard swimming pool we had when I was a kid.
Getting to go to the Razorback basketball game tonight with Robyn and Rob.
God’s provision for me and my family.
The aroma of fresh, hot cinnamon rolls.
Hearing my grandsons laugh.
The anticipation of heaven.
Meaningful work to do.
So many wonderful memories.
Young Life camps.
A fire in the fireplace on a cold night.
Cold water after a run on a hot day.
The smell of freshly cut grass, which always reminds me of football.
I’ll stop there for now. I’m sure there’s a lot more I could add. So thank you, Lord, for Your love and faithfulness and kindness toward me. You’ve been way better to me than I deserve.
So what are a few things on your list?
Posted: December 19th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, God is good, God's will, God's word, seeking God | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 15)
If you include resistance training as part of your exercise program, then you already know about the principle of “progressive overload.” To get stronger, you progressively increase the resistance you’re lifting. The muscle then responds by getting bigger, which means you get stronger.
Our faith grows in the same way.
When we experience various kinds of trials, we choose to believe God, we see God come through and our faith grows stronger.
But what tests our faith today is not what tested our faith two years ago. As we grow stronger, God is able to increase the “resistance” of the trial, so we can continue to get stronger.
James said it like this:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Is your faith being tested today? Does it feel like you can’t take any more?
God is developing perseverance in you. Perseverance is leading to greater maturity. Your faith is growing stronger. God is developing in you the capacity to believe Him more than you ever have.
Don’t quit. He sees what you’re going through. He understands the weight or pain you’re enduring. He will not let it crush you. He will remove it at just the right time. Trust that He’s using it to grow your faith and prepare you for greater fruitfulness and blessing.
Posted: December 17th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believe in Jesus, believing God, faith, God's character, God's glory, God's will, God's word, seeking God | No Comments »
2o Days of Believing God (Day 13)
Recently, Robyn and I watched the movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for the first time. Let’s just say it didn’t make our Top 10 List. For me, I just didn’t find the main characters very likable. If you have a different opinion, feel free to leave a comment.
Anyway, when it comes to movies, the main character makes or breaks the story.
It’s that way in life, too. The problem I often run into though is confusing the main character with a supporting character. I’m not the main character in my story. You’re not in yours either.
The main character is God. We’re living in His story. He’s not a part of ours. It’s never been about us. As I read these verses at the end of Romans 11 last night, I was reminded of that…
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to give him advice?
And who has given him so much
that he needs to pay it back?
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
A big part of believing God is distinguishing between his role and ours. The glory…all of it…goes to Him. Not you or me.
Posted: December 15th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, God is good, God's character, God's will, God's word, Jesus, marriage, seeking God, trials, Truth, worry | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 11)
God is with us.
Not far away. Not unconcerned. Not uncaring.
God is with us.
He’s not just the God of 2,000 years ago. He’s not just the God of the future. He’s the God of the here and now.
He’s present with you. Right now. In this moment. Jesus is with…you.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
God became human and lived with us.
Jesus lives with you. Today. You don’t need to ask for His presence. He’s already present with you. Right now.
He is with YOU.
Are you afraid?
He is with YOU.
Are you in pain?
He is with YOU.
Are you discouraged?
He is with YOU.
Are you worried?
He is with YOU.
Is your marriage in trouble?
He is with YOU.
Are you lonely?
He is with YOU.
Not just with other people.
Jesus is with YOU.
Posted: December 14th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God is good, God's character, God's love, God's will, God's word, marriage, prayer, Relationships, seeking God, Young Life | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 10)
Yesterday, we looked at the wrong ways to wait on God. Today, let’s look at how to do it right.
I knew a guy a number of years ago who was an ultra-marathon runner. Those are the 100-mile races. He and I got into a fitness discussion one day and he was explaining his workout schedule to me. There didn’t appear to be any rest days, so I asked him about it.
He said his rest days consisted of going to the athletic club and riding a stationary bike. He called it “active rest.” He and I defined “rest” very differently! My rest days include naps, not riding a bike!
Waiting on God is more like getting on the bike than on the couch though. It’s active.
We pray. We read His word. We seek counsel. We worship. We serve. We live in community with others who are believing God. We continue doing the last thing He showed us to do.
We actively wait. We don’t just sit around and hope things get better.
My wife, Robyn, is a great example of this. She does an amazing job leading the ministry of Young Life in Northwest Arkansas. She has an incredible staff team and around a hundred committed college students who serve as volunteer leaders. Ministry is occurring on the University of Arkansas campus and in several nearby towns as a result of their work.
Robyn works hard and prays even harder for God to fund the budget, open doors of opportunity and raise up more volunteers. This is active waiting. It’s doing what she knows to do while also waiting for God and trusting Him to provide new opportunities and needed funds.
You have a different set of circumstances.
You’re trying to repair a broken relationship.
Medical test after medical test hasn’t revealed the cause of your symptoms.
You’ve tried to sell your house, but the offers aren’t coming.
You’ve tried to find the right job, but things never seem to work out.
Active waiting is refusing to give into the five destructive waiting behaviors we looked at yesterday while continuing to seek and believe God. I know it’s not easy. I’ve failed many, many times.
Know that God is at work in your circumstances. Right now. He has a purpose behind the waiting. When the time is right, the waiting will end and you will enter a new season.
In the meantime…keep seeking, believing and doing what you know to do.
Let me take a moment and talk to those of you waiting for a change in your marriage. You know there are issues. Maybe some serious ones. You’ve talked to your spouse. You’ve prayed. But nothing has changed.
Allow me to suggest that part of your active waiting be to work through THIS COURSE together that I released a couple weeks ago. These proven principles will be the best active waiting you’ve ever done for your marriage. CLICK HERE for more information…and begin seeing your marriage transformed. (The price goes up soon, so don’t wait.)
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Posted: December 13th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, fear, God is good, God's will, God's word, marriage, money, pain and suffering, seeking God, worry | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 9)
You have a need. You feel confident God will meet it. But nothing happens.
So you wait. And wait…and wait. Until you’re tired of waiting. So tired.
After God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son, they waited 25 years for his birth. David waited 14 years to become king after being anointed by Samuel and he spent much of that time running for his life. A Savior was promised thousands of years before Jesus finally came on the scene.
We might have to wait a week for the results of a biopsy, a year to sell a house or a few years for a start-up business to become profitable. Maybe for you it’s waiting for God to heal your marriage. Or waiting to get pregnant. Or waiting for a spouse.
Waiting is a mega-theme in the Bible. It’s something we have to learn to do well.
So let’s look at a few ways to NOT wait well. I’ve tried all of them so you don’t have to…
1. Get angry. God doesn’t behave like I want Him to. He doesn’t come through for me, at least not the way I wanted. So I conclude He’s not good or worth trusting. After all, I did my best to obey Him and now He’s treating me unfairly. Anger soon turns to bitterness and cynicism. It’s a downward spiral from there. I’ve been in that spiral. It’s not pretty.
2. Get discouraged. The waiting seems endless. Things aren’t getting better, they’re only getting worse. In fact, just when it seems like things can’t get worse, sure enough, they do. Circumstances can seem so overwhelming that we lose hope. We can’t even imagine things turning around.
3. Feel sorry for ourselves. This is a subtle one to fall into. It’s a victim mentality. We think, “I did what God wanted, but I guess He’s just against me.”
4. Manipulate our circumstances. Abraham and Sarah tried this one. When Sarah couldn’t get pregnant, she suggested Abraham sleep with one of her servants. Being the unselfish, man-of-faith he was, Abraham went right along with her plan. When God has me in a season of waiting, it’s best to not take things into my own hands. Nothing good can comes of it.
5. Lower our expectations of God. This may be the worst of the five, but I was guilty of this for a number of years. After living through the first four, I figured the safest bet was to just lower my expectations. I just wouldn’t expect God to do anything for me. If I didn’t expect Him to answer prayers, bless me or help me out of difficult situations, then I wouldn’t be disappointed. I don’t know if there’s a more offensive way to view God than as someone who really can’t be counted on.
So those are the wrong ways, but how do we respond when the need is unmet and God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry?
Tune in tomorrow…
Posted: December 12th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God is good, God's will, God's word, humility, pain and suffering, seeking God, trials | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day
After Jesus was baptized we read, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he preached there, but then went into Arabia for several years. The origin of the word Arabia can also mean “desert.”
After Moses killed an Egyptian, he fled to the land of Midian where he stayed for 40 years. Midian? It’s right next to Arabia.
Before God led the Israelites into the Promised Land, Moses said to them:
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
We know that after Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, He went on to call His first disciples and begin His public ministry.
After Paul’s season in the desert, he began his mission of taking the gospel to the Gentiles.
Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God called him back to Egypt to lead His people into the land He’d promised to them.
I don’t think Jesus, Paul, Moses or the nation of Israel loved the desert. I know I don’t. And I’m sure you don’t either. Unless of course, there’s a resort in the middle of it.
The desert is a prerequisite though. It’s a training ground for for whatever God is calling us to do next.
God is up to something in your life. He has you in the desert for a reason. He wants to reveal Himself to you. He wants to teach you. He wants to humble you. He wants you to know you don’t live on bread alone, but on every Word He speaks. He is the One who is causing you to hunger and He is the One who is feeding you.
The desert won’t last forever. God uses it for a season and then brings you into a land of fruitfulness. If you don’t experience the desert, then You will not be prepared for how He will bless you and use you in the future.
Hold on. Don’t quit. God is at work. He will lead you out at just the right time. Keep your eyes on Him and trust Him.
The desert comes before the Promised Land.
Posted: December 11th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe, believe in Jesus, believing God, delight yourself in the Lord, Difficulties, God is good, God's character, God's love, God's word, grace, seeking God | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 7)
I just sent an email to my subscribers and suggested they plan a surprise for their spouse this weekend. Nothing elaborate. Just to be intentional about meeting each other’s needs. Surprising each other is a fun way to keep the mystery and excitement alive.
Just when I think I’ve seen it all…Robyn will do or say something that surprises me. And I love that! It means I don’t have her figured out. It means she’s growing and changing…as I hope I am. By the way, being committed to your personal growth is a great way to head off any potential boredom in your marriage.
If you think about it…you’re really not married to the person you exchanged vows with on your wedding day. You’ve both changed. You’ve learned and experienced new things. Don’t ever stop. Keep growing.
So back to the subject of this post. Would you ask God to surprise you?
You may have one of two reactions to the idea of asking God for a surprise.
The first is: “Whoa! Be careful what you ask for!”
The second is: “A surprise from God? Bring it on!”
Your reaction reveals a lot about how you view God.
The first reaction tells me you view God as someone who really isn’t on your side. Someone who’s looking for any excuse to throw a problem into your life. Ask Him for a surprise and you’re asking for trouble.
The second reaction tells me you view God as a loving Father who delights in His children. You know He loves you and wants only the best for you. Ask Him for a surprise and you begin to anticipate His goodness being expressed toward you.
If asking God for a surprise makes you nervous, let me encourage you to meditate on the following passages. Your view of God may need a realignment.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
Does God use trials and difficulties in our lives? Absolutely. He uses them to conform us to His image and strengthen our faith. That’s not my point here. We’re talking about how you and I view God.
So how about it? Are you up for asking God to surprise you? This is certainly a good season for presents and surprises. Ask God for one. See what He does.
Leave a comment if you’re in. I’ll join you in asking!
And believe He always has your best in mind. He’s not looking for an excuse to give you a scorpion.
One last thing…if the idea of asking God for a surprise feels selfish and instead you feel you should be doing something for Him…can I lovingly suggest that maybe you’re not seeing God as a gracious Father who delights in you. Maybe it feels like you need to do whatever you can to try and please Him.
Here’s a thought…could it be you’re already pleasing to Him? And He’d really enjoy surprising you with His goodness?
Posted: December 10th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, confusion, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God is good, God's character, God's love, God's will, God's word, money, pain and suffering, seeking God, trials, worry | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 6)
Last weekend, my right eye was watery and bloodshot. Then I felt a mild sore throat coming on. Then some congestion. And by Tuesday night, my eye was fine, but my throat was not. Mildly sore had become severely sore. I didn’t get much sleep that night and didn’t get much work done yesterday. Including a post for day 5 of our 20 Days of Believing God.
After a trip to my doctor, I’m already starting to feel better, but not getting a post done for your yesterday is probably a good reminder…
We can make all the plans we want, but we’re just not in control…and our plans are rarely, if ever, the point.
We can get frustrated when things don’t go our way, but maybe when they don’t, they’re actually going exactly as God intended. Maybe being sick when you feel like you can least afford it is God’s way of saying, “I’m not dependent on your work to meet your needs. I’ve already got this!” Or maybe, “Why don’t you slow down for a moment so you’ll hear My voice?”
I’m not saying God is going around making us sick, but I sure do believe He can use our sickness or failure or confusion to get through to us…if we’re open to Him.
So what’s not going right in your world today?
Did you oversleep and miss a meeting?
Open an email and discover you’re late on a payment?
Did your baby poop or throw up on you…right after getting both of you dressed?
Was it an argument with your spouse before you even had your first cup of coffee?
What’s confusing you or frustrating you today?
Whatever it is you’ve already faced, are facing now or will face later today…remember that the One who made you and loves you is never taken by surprise by your frustrating day, your messed up plans or the vomit stain on your shoulder.
So if God isn’t making all our plans succeed or making everyday go smoothly for us…let’s remember what’s really going on.
Let’s not lose sight of the simple fact that God wants you. Not your plans. Not your work. Not your promises to do better.
He wants YOU.
He desires you. He longs for you. He watches and waits for you. He enjoys the time you spend with Him. He loves it when you talk to Him while you drive or go for a walk. He delights in you. He enjoys you.
He didn’t make anyone else just like you. He wanted a unique relationship with YOU.
And He wants you to love Him and know Him. He likes it when you seek Him. He enjoys it when you believe Him…not your out-of-control circumstances.
And He invites you to experience Him and His rest today. Right now. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
That’s a wonderful invitation, isn’t it?
But let’s not miss our part, because if we do, I’m afraid we never get to experience what He’s promising.
We must come to Him and take His yoke upon us. When we do, He promises rest, He promises to teach us and He promises to give us a light burden.
To experience all He has for us, we must say “no” to all the distractions, so we can say “yes” to time with Him. Time alone with Him in His word is what allows us to learn to think like Him, to see life like He does, to know Him better so we can trust Him more.
And then what a privilege to also take our heavy burdens and give them to Him. Our financial worries. Our health issues. Our broken relationships.
“Here, Jesus, I’ve been carrying these for too long. I really don’t think I can take another step with them.”
I will never suggest this easy. If you’re like me, you give your burdens to Jesus, but take them back when you don’t see Him doing anything with them. We can know He’ll do something with them…it just won’t look like what we would have done OR when! And we need to be okay with that, because what we get in return are peace and a light burden.
So what’s ONE thing you can do right now to intentionally come to Jesus and give Him your heavy burdens? If you have an accountability partner, talk about it together.
And I’ll see you tomorrow. I think. That’s the plan anyway.